It is common knowledge that RIM, the Canadian company that makes BlackBerry, has been doing miserably bad over the last couple of years, way worse than Microsoft, when it comes to mobile phones. The company enjoyed an estimated 5.7% mobile phone market share globally at the end of 2013, coming behind Android, the market leader and iOS and slightly doing better than Microsoft’s Windows mobile and Phone 7 and 8. This is a sharp contrast to the company’s performance in mid-2010 when it dominated the mobile phone market with a 35% market share followed by Android with 27.5% and Apple’s iOS with 20.9%.
RIM’s fortunes have changed, and their launch two new smartphones, Blackberry Z10 and Q10 and new operating system BlackBerry 10, are the company’s lifeline. Will their recent move reverse the company’s dwindling fortunes and bring it on top again or is BlackBerry on its dying bed? Will the new operating system have an impact on consumers or will it be like Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system which had minimal impacts on its popularity? For now, we can compare the BlackBerry 10 with the leading mobile operating system in the market, Android, and see why the new entrant does not stand a chance against Android phones.
Hardware and specs
Blackberry Z10’s hardware is limited. Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone float on the same boat in this essence. Unlike Android which offers tons of hardware capabilities from different manufacturers, with Blackberry, users have to contend with a one-fit-all hardware. A couple of weeks ago, RIM, now renamed Blackberry, was making a lot of noises in regards to the Z10, but they put a lot of emphasis on the new operating system the BB10 rather than the hardware capabilities. BB10 launched just the other day but there wasn’t even one partner to back the software with commendable hardware. Android comes free, even if BlackBerry wanted to license their software to third-party hardware manufacturers, it will never rival Android in terms of price. We have already heard of how some major global telecommunications such as Vodafone Australia are rejecting the Blackberry already (read it here).
BlackBerry 10 may only be available on BlackBerry z10 handsets. Though much hyped, these phones cannot measure up to the current Android market leaders such as Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx, HTC Droid DNA, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II or even Apple’s iPhone 5. The first sign that the BlackBerry smartphones may not measure up to the newest Android phones is the smaller screens – the Z10 comes with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, a 4.2 inch 1280 x 768 pixels screen with a 356 ppi density, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory and an 1800 mAh battery. The Q10 comes with a 1.5 GHz dual-core 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, a 3.1 inch 720 x 720 pixels screen, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory and an 1800 mAh battery.
One may argue that BlackBerry smartphones are designed and developed for office users and professionals who need to work remotely but the kind of applications used today require a powerful smartphone and most importantly, a powerful processor. As we can see, the specifications and hardware of both the Z10 and Q10 will not impress a majority of advanced users, but diehard blackberry users will certainly see these devices as a blessing.
During the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the two new blackberry smartphones, RIM, now BlackBerry, launched a number of applications for the new completely overhauled platform. The number of applications is impressive – standing at over 70,000, with developers now managing to port a large number of Android applications to BlackBerry 10 platform. This is good, but this represents only about 40 percent of applications currently available of Google Play Store. The problem is that most ported applications often develop problems and have lag and compatibility issues in most cases. BlackBerry also has an option for users to run Android applications on an Android player platform, a fancy name for a virtual Android machine on a BlackBerry device. Users who have used Android will understand that BlackBerry will never catch up with Android when it comes to productivity applications or applications of other nature for that matter. Someone who depends on third party applications will understand this.
One look at the screen of a BlackBerry 10 device and you will notice the screen has no buttons, at least no visible buttons. There are power and volume buttons, but interacting with the user interface is through a series of gestures. Anyone who has used a PlayBook will understand that using a smartphone device without a home button sounds fancy, though it takes some time to get used to. This gesture based user interface is a big gamble for BlackBerry but in the end there are situations where hardware home buttons, end call or back button come in handy. In a nutshell, although some people may love this kind of interface, I wouldn’t.
Is there anything that BlackBerry 10 outdoes Android?
Yes. BlackBerry 10 has tons of great built-in features that makes the use of this operating system smooth, accessible and unique. A good example is a unified inbox, secure server connections for email connections and the simplicity in adding a corporate email account. Switching between work and personal profiles on BlackBerry 10 is also simpler and this makes the phone the best choice for users who have to haggle several email accounts. This operating system seems to have been specially developed for enterprise users and there are special contracts for such users, not the mass market.
What next for BlackBerry?
BlackBerry may be fading, with its market share falling below 5% globally, but we are yet to see if the introduction of two smartphones, and the BlackBerry 10 operating system will change this. Corporate and elite users and business people may find the new developments a blessing, but the masses may not be so impressed with such phone.